Virtual travel opens up a whole world to people who thought they might never have the chance to see it. From swimming with humpback whales in Antarctica to hiking the Great Wall of China, people can now explore every corner of our planet without ever leaving their living room. However, travel is so much more than just visiting exciting and beautiful places. It’s about meeting new people, trying different foods, and learning about other cultures so we can break down stereotypes and become more compassionate citizens.
Take a World Tour from the Comfort of Home
Our world is filled with diversity. From religion and language to social status and customs, it’s important to learn about people and cultures all across the globe to broaden our own perspectives and build successful communities. Culture plays a strong role in shaping people’s values, beliefs, opinions, and feelings. When we understand and appreciate cultures other than our own, we can begin to break down stereotypes to see the world from a new point of view.
Despite the differences between cultures, there are many similarities, too. People everywhere experience happiness and sadness, love and excitement. They hope to have happy and fulfilled lives no matter their beliefs, class, or religion. When we realize that everyone is part of the same human race, we begin to see the world through new eyes. Discrimination and racism take a backseat.
Travel gives people an opportunity to experience other cultures firsthand, but not everyone has the chance to explore the world beyond their own backyard. For many, the high cost of seeing the world is a big obstacle. Now, that’s starting to change. Thanks to technology, people everywhere can get a glimpse of some of the world’s most fascinating places. Colorful 360-degree videos and immersive simulations offer exciting opportunities to travel the globe. From museums and galleries to nature’s wonders and national landmarks, virtual tours give people who might not otherwise have the chance the ability to explore other parts of the world. If you’ve ever dreamed of examining the artwork at the Louvre museum in Paris or climbing to the top of Mount Everest, now is your chance.
Learning about other parts of the world helps kids become more empathetic toward other cultures. It helps them understand that everyone’s ideas, thoughts, and feelings should be valued, even if they are different from their own. It also opens up opportunities to talk about why it’s important to form an accurate view of society, how understanding other cultures can help resolve problems and conflicts, and what it means to be a global citizen.
Our expert researchers have vetted the most current content to give you easy answers about the basics. Here’s what you need to know right now:
- According to the United Nations, there are 195 sovereign states around the world. A sovereign state is a place that has its own borders and an independent government.
- The world has a population of about 7.7 billion people. It is expected to grow by 2 billion people in the next three decades.
- Only about 5 percent of the world's population lives in North America.
- Of the entire global population, 84 percent of people identify with a religious group. About 2.3 billion people, or 31 percent of the world’s population, are Christians, making Christianity the largest religion on Earth. There are about 1.8 billion Muslims, which equals about 24 percent of the population. Hindus account for about 15 percent, while Buddhists make up about 7 percent.
- There are more than 6,900 known languages around the world. About 230 are spoken in Europe, while nearly 2,200 are spoken in Asia. There are about 165 Indigenous languages spoken in North America. However, many are nearly extinct. About 75 are spoken by only a few people, while just eight are spoken by up to 10,000 people.
- Sydney, Australia, is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. About 36 percent of the city’s 5 million people come from other countries, and there are more than 250 languages spoken locally.
- More than 80 percent of the people who live in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, are foreign-born.
- New York City and London are two of the top cultural hubs on Earth. There are more than 800 languages spoken in New York City and about 300 in London. Approximately 37 percent of people living in both cities are foreign-born.
Now that you know the facts about people and cultures around the world, check out these fascinating human interest stories from around the world.
Read: Virtual Travel Experiences that let you Explore from your Living Room
Read: Cultural Immersion: A Cure for Hate, Ignorance and Stereotypes
Listen: The Frommers Travel Show Podcast
Watch: 7 of the Best Online Virtual Tours
Watch: 360 Antarctica - Unexpected Snow (National Geographic)
Depending on the ages of your students and the topics you teach, learning about other cultures offers a wide variety of interesting classroom discussion ideas.
General discussions about hot topics and current affairs related to cultural diversity.
- What problems could be solved today with a better understanding of cultural diversity?
- What cultures are in your community and how can you learn more about them?
- What are some of the stereotypes you have heard about other cultures?
- Why is it important to learn about other cultures?
- How can learning about other cultures help people build stronger communities?
- What are racism and discrimination?
Check out these links to stay up to date and informed about the many countries and cultures of the world.
Holidays Around the World (Grade 1)
|Continents - Europe (Grade 2)|
Religion Studies - Buddhism (Grade 4)
World Cultures - Maori (Grade 6)